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July 23, 2014

Yesterday was a very rare day with two appellate level courts reaching conflicting opinions on the same issue regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). At issue was whether federally facilitated exchanges could make premium assistance payments for a person enrolling for health insurance through a federally-facilitated exchange. The language in statute, Code § 36B, states that assistance payments may be made by “Exchange established by the State,” and makes no reference to federally facilitated exchanges. Federal regulations provided that the assistance payments also included federally-facilitated Exchanges. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (Halbig, et al. v HHS) said “no” to the interpretation of the statute by the regulations, and the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (King, et al. v HHS) said “yes.”

Hello Supreme Court, here we go again.  Does this mean that those living in the District of Columbia will not receive assistance payments until the Supreme Court rules?

The Affordable Care Act sets in motion the largest change in employer-provided health benefits most of us have seen in our lifetime. Keep in mind the reform is ever-changing. To keep up to date subscribe to our blog. For further questions regarding the ACA, please contact Steve Dunavant atsdunavant@cbiz.comor (901) 685-5575.




July 17, 2014

The 8th Annual Tennessee Sales Tax Holiday Weekend is August 1-3, 2014.

What is considered tax-free?

Clothing priced $100 or less per item. Any clothing purchased for use by a trade or business, as well as accessories such as jewelry, bags, or sports and recreational equipment are not tax-exempt.

School supplies priced $100 or less per item. Any school supplies purchased for use by a trade or business are not exempt from tax. School supplies do not include instructional materials, reference books, or computer supplies such as printers, printer ink, etc.

School art supplies priced $100 or less per item. There is no requirement that purchases be made only for students. If an item is tax-exempt, anyone may make the purchase tax-free.

Computers $1,500 or less, not for use in a trade or business (includes laptops and tablets). Computer items like monitors, keyboards, speakers, etc. are not included. A full list of items can be viewed here.

For more information, go to http://www.tn.gov/revenue/salestaxholiday/.




July 15, 2014

The 2014 Super Women in Business have been selected by the Memphis Business Journal. These 25 women make up the third class of finalists since the awards' inception. They are honored for their professional influence in various industries, success through leadership in business, and community contribution.

Celebrate with us as we honor these women at the Super Women in Business Awards luncheon held Friday, August 29, 2014 at the Hilton of Memphis. Individual tickets and group packages are available. Register for the event here.

The 25 awardees are:

Sally Aldrich Methodist Alliance Services

Sandra Bailey Methodist Extended Care Hospital

Cindy Brewer Leo Events

Ruby Bright Women's Foundation for a Greater Memphis

Cheryl Citrone Vaco Memphis

Lisa Daniel Public Financial Management

Kelly Dobbins Mid-South Drug Testing Inc.

Dana Dye Baptist Memorial Hospital - Memphis

Allison Gilbert Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh, PLLC

Kat Gordon Muddy's Bake Shop

Sue Ellen Haaga St. Francis Hospital - Tenet Health Care

Glenda Hastings Napa Cafe

Willeen W. Hastings Memphis Health Center, Inc.

E. Florence Hervery Case Management, Inc.

Ann Langston Church Health Center

Maria Teresa Lensing AT&T

Sarah Maurice Campbell Clinic Orthopaedics

Jennifer McCullough Chef Jenn

Judy McLellan Crye-Leike

Sally Pace FTN Financial

Nisha Powers Powers Hill Design

Teresa Sloyan Hyde Family Foundations

Roblin Webb Freedom Preparatory Charter Schools

Becky West WestRogers Strategic Communications

Keri Wright Universal Asset Management

Finalists were announced in the July 11th edition of the Memphis Business Journal. Subscribers can view the online edition here.



July 8, 2014

The 2013 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR) told us that guessing, cracking or reusing passwords led to approximately 80% of data breaches involving hacking and the 2014 Verizon DBIR report remains full of caution related to passwords.

Convinced that we need to work on improving our passwords, consider the advancement in technology: Cyber criminals have programs that automate their ability to guess passwords which is commonly referred to as a brute force attack. As technology advances, processing power increases which makes brute-force password cracking programs able to guess longer passwords in a shorter amount of time. In order to protect yourself, your job is to make your  password difficult to guess yet easy for you to remember.

Our advice? Passwords such as 12345678 or Password or Computer1 are easy to remember but are also easy targets for hackers. Use the first letter of each word in a sentence that is easy for you to remember but results in a long and more complex password. Capitalize some of the letters and include symbols and numbers.  For example, My grandson Was born at 6:10am in August.  MgWb@6:10amiA is a long password (more than 12 characters) that would be difficult to guess but easy to remember. For highly confidential information The SANS Institute recommends a minimum of 15 characters.  Do not use personal information easily found on the internet and social media websites such as your pet’s name.

A common way for cyber criminals to steal your password is to infect your computer. Make sure your computer is protected with anti-virus and automatic updating is enabled to ensure you have the latest anti-virus available.

Use different passwords for different accounts. For example, never use the same passwords for your work or bank accounts as your Facebook, YouTube or Twitter accounts. If you use only one password everywhere and someone gets the password, you have a problem. If you use different passwords and one of your passwords is hacked your other accounts are still safe.

Never share your password. Remember it is a secret.

If you have further questions regarding data security or risk advisory, please don't hesitate to contact me, Brenda Brigman, at bbrigman@cbiz.com or (901) 685.5575.




July 3, 2014

As part of our annual Summer Days of Service program, CBIZ volunteers headed to the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association (MIFA) to take part in the Meals on Wheels program.

Before venturing out across town, the group learned more about MIFA's largest program and the help needed to keep it running in the Mid-South.  Meals on Wheels provides hot, nutritious lunches for homebound elderly and seniors at congregate sites each weekday.

Jennifer Watts, a CBIZ volunteer, noted the rewarding experience she had while delivering meals: "I like the Meals on Wheels program because you actually get to interact with the people you are helping. It's nice to see the immediate effects of your work while volunteering with MIFA."

Earlier this summer, we kicked off Summer Days of Service at the Mid-South Food Bank where CBIZ volunteers sorted donated food.  More information about MIFA can be found on their website: www.mifa.org/.




July 1, 2014

The Florida House of Representatives passed a unanimous vote which Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law.  The bill repeals the state's current data security breach law and replaces it with what some are calling the nation's broadest and most encompassing breach law. The Florida Information Protection Act of 2014, which becomes effective July 1, requires companies to take reasonable measures to protect and secure data containing personal information in electronic form and requires notice to individuals of data security breaches under certain circumstances.

Among other measures, the law will allow the Florida Attorney General to require a copy of the incident or forensic report, along with copies of the companies' policies and procedures at the time of the data breach. Requiring a company to provide this level of detailed sensitive information and repealing rather than amended existing law is ground-breaking.

Florida businesses are required to report electronic data breaches within 30 days of the breach. Fines of up to $500,000 for violations of the Act can be assessed.

Key highlights from the amended Act:

  • Expands the definition of “personal information” to now include medical information, health insurance number and online account information (i.e., username and password, e-mail address);
  • Expands the regulatory scope to state governmental agencies, which can now be held accountable for electronic data breaches;
  • Requires notification to the state attorney general if the breach involves over 500 Florida residents; and,
  • Requires both state governmental agencies and private businesses to implement proper data privacy and security protections.

In addition, the State Attorney General is now required to report annually to the State Legislature on data breaches by governmental agencies and to enforce the Act under the state’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The Governor was quoted saying, “Cyber breach laws are only getting broader, and Florida is not likely to be the last to introduce and pass a broad law”.

Data security exploits are in the news daily. Some questions to consider about your data security include:

  • What are you doing to protect yourself and your customer?        
  • How will your organization respond if you suffer a breach of personally identifiable information or credit card information?
  • Are you concerned about liability and fines that you could incur resulting from a data breach?
CBIZ Security & Advisory Services, LLC has the capability to help you prevent data breaches, avoid fines, and stay out of the headline news. If you could benefit from an evaluation of your security posture or would like to discuss these questions further, email us at pcihelp@cbiz.com to set up a time to talk, or contact me at bbrigman@cbiz.com at (901) 685-5575. 



June 26, 2014

“One’s an outlier, a few many be a passing fad, but over 50 is the beginning of an industry trend.” Eric Grossman, National Exchange Leader at Mercer

Reuters is predicting 2014 to be a “watershed” year. Over 65 employers are moving to private exchanges, with over 1,000,000 active employees due to participate. Like the Health Insurance Marketplace (i.e., the public exchanges), private exchanges are marketplaces of health insurance and other employee benefit products where employers may purchase the health insurance. Then, the employees can choose from a health plan provided.

Unlike the public, governmental exchanges, there is no governmental subsidy to purchase insurance for those who meet the salary guidelines under the ACA. Instead, there is an employer subsidy to purchase insurance that meets the ACA requirements as well as any state insurance regulations. This shifting in the cost and risk of health insurance allows employers to control their bottom line, while shifting the costs to their employees. Under the private exchanges, employers’ former duties of plan design and other insurance relationships are now outsourced. However, employers will still have to face communication challenges, such as monitoring employees’ relationship and understanding of the exchanges.

What are the benefits of private exchanges?

  • Negotiating Leverage
  • Competition
  • Product Commoditization
  • Administrative Streamlining
  • Cost Trend Control (risk pooling)
  • Cost Trend Control (defined contribution)
CBIZ offers not only a mid to large market private health care exchange, but also a custom version for employers with 25 to 100 employees. Keep an eye on our blog for an upcoming post on CBIZ Choice, our own private exchange. For all questions regarding private exchanges or the Affordable Care Act, please contact Steve Dunavant at sdunavant@cbiz.com or (901) 685-5575.  

 




June 24, 2014

Practice Development Manager, Megan Murdock, was recently published in BIZGrowth Strategies Summer 2014 edition for her piece highlighting the "The Shift to Content Marketing."

Her story, which follows content from its creation to distribution, focuses on the importance of content marketing and its ability to be leveraged for lead generation as well as operate as a tool to help meet business goals.

The following is a short excerpt from the article:

Content should not be created haphazardly and should ultimately tie into a company's overall marketing and business strategy. Before committing to this approach, companies must realize that content marketing is an ongoing process that requires budget allocation, constant planning, methodical execution and insightful evaluation. However, if executed well, a content marketing strategy can assist companies with achieving their business goals and lead them to a broader, more engaged customer base.

BIZGrowth Strategies is a newsletter produced by CBIZ and published on a quarterly basis. To view electronic versions of current and past issues of BIZGrowth Strategies, visit http://www.cbiz.com/News/Newsletters. View Megan's full article here.




June 20, 2014

What has been delayed for employers?

Employer Shared Responsibility Requirement Provisions: No reporting until calendar year 2015

  • Delayed until January 1, 2015 for large employers with 100 or more employees.  There is a potential excise tax penalty for failure to offer minimum essential coverage (MEC) at an affordable rate:

1. "No coverage” Penalty ($2000): Failure to offer MEC to 95% (70% for 2015) of full-time employees working 30+ hours

2. “Inadequate or Unaffordable” Penalty ($3000): Coverage fails to meet minimum value standard or is unaffordable

Transition relief is only available if the non-calendar year plan year has not been changed since December 27, 2012.

  • Delayed until 2016 for small employers with 50-99 employees. There is a potential excise tax penalty for failure to offer minimum essential coverage (MEC) at an affordable rate:

1. “No coverage” Penalty ($2000): Failure to offer MEC to 95% of full-time employees working 30+ hours

2.  “Inadequate or Unaffordable” Penalty ($3000): Coverage fails to meet minimum value standard or is unaffordable

To qualify, employer must not have materially reduced the health benefits offered as of February 9, 2014.

What has been delayed for individuals?

Individual Mandate Penalties for Failure to Maintain MEC: Provisions Delayed until October 1, 2016

 Individual Mandate Penalties

What has NOT been delayed?

Group Health Plan Mandates: For plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2014, all group health plans, including grandfathered and non-grandfathered plans, must include these mandates:

  • Ban on pre-existing condition exclusion limitations on anyone
  • Extension of dependent coverage until age 26
  • Full implementation of ban on annual or lifetime limits for essential health services
  • Increased limit in outcome-based incentives/disincentives permitted in wellness programs from 20% to 30%; or, up to 50% for tobacco-free programs
  • Ban on waiting periods exceeding 90 days (60 days if using 1st of the month eligibility)
  • Inclusion of essential benefit coverage, providing a specified actuarial value, and cost-sharing limitations by insurers in small group and individual markets, and large group markets via state marketplaces
The Affordable Care Act sets in motion the largest change in employer-provided health benefits most of us have seen in our lifetime. Keep in mind the reform is ever-changing. To keep up to date subscribe to our blog. For further questions regarding the ACA, please contact Steve Dunavant at sdunavant@cbiz.com or (901) 685-5575.



June 17, 2014
CBIZ Women's Advantage (CWA) in Memphis has launched a book club open to both men and women, led by two CWA Executive Board members, Linda Lauer and Megan Murdock.

The introduction of a professional book club in the Memphis office comes with immense support from Senior Managing Director, Eustis Corrigan. The first book to be discussed in the program is Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.

Linda Lauer notes the overall takeaway from the first meeting: "We came to the conclusion that no matter what we focused on (in the book) - work/life balance, confidence, leadership, prioritizing responsibilities - it never pertained to one gender."

CWA believes that reading good books can challenge us, inspire us, and make us hungry for more. Research tells us that the best way to remember new ideas and put them into action is to share our thoughts and ideas with someone else. In fact, participating in a book discussion increases retention by 70 percent.

For more information about CWA or our internal book club, please contact Megan Murdock at mmurdock@cbiz.com or 901.685.5575.




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